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National Education ProgramAmerica's Distribution of Wealth (1955)

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Demonstrates the widespread ownership of America's basic wealth and the equitable distribution of national income. With Prof. Clifton L. Ganus of Harding College, Searcy, Ark.

This movie is part of the collection: Prelinger Archives

Producer: National Education Program
Sponsor: National Education Program
Audio/Visual: Sd, B&W
Keywords: Economics; Cold War

Creative Commons license: Public Domain

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Downloaded 11,236 times
Average Rating: 4.17 out of 5 stars4.17 out of 5 stars4.17 out of 5 stars4.17 out of 5 stars

Reviewer: junya - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - January 8, 2010
Subject: Eerie lecturer...
I can't see his eyes!
Reviewer: thebrix - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - June 30, 2005
Subject: Mendacious but well done
A fascinating lecture, still valid today as the same tricks are being used!

The lecturer attempts to demonstrate that the wealth of Americans is relatively equally distributed. However, there are at least four serious errors in his argument. In summary, Equating wealth with income; Lumping high earners (five times the average wage and above) in one category whereas, in any distribution of income, the tail is surprisingly thick; Using averages rather than medians (fifty per cent above, fifty per cent below), averages being somewhat higher than medians; Treating income from bonds, shares and rentals as though they were exclusive to different groups of people whereas, in fact, they overlap (probably massively).

What really spoils things is an interlude from an "English socialist", with an absurd fake accent, who suggests that, there, a railway engineer would not be able to afford to buy food in a supermarket! Ridiculous, as is the assertion that an average "English worker" would not own a car and would go around on a bicycle. (In 1955 that assertion was becoming history, if it was not already history; UK cars were a success story and the motorway network was already being planned). There is a similarly bizarre contribution from a "Russian".

Despite those mendacities the lecture is well structured and well presented, with some ingenious (if rather tacky) visual aids and a captive audience of Arkansas schoolchildren providing some visual relief.
Reviewer: BlackWorm - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - March 22, 2004
Subject: Excellent for Comparison
This film embarrassingly attempts to portray America as having a widespread distribution of wealth. The "expert" presenter makes the usual critical error (or ruse) of those attempting to prove such a proposition: he equates wealth with income. Still, the film does seem to demonstrate that in the mid 1950's, the average person did indeed have some wealth. Other aspects of the presentation are intentionally misleading, such as the sliding people on the income graph. The intent is to show the income distribution curve, but the presenter conveniently places all the people in the highest income category at the minimum income level for that group. A real graph would of course spike exponentially at high levels. Much entertainment also comes from the scripted scenes with actors portraying British and Russian citizens, marvelling at the wealth of the average American.
The best scene is undoubtedly where the "expert" claims that Karl Marx's prediction that a capitalist system leads to an unbalanced distribution of wealth is false. One need only compare today's wealth distribution curve with that presented here to shed light on the validity of that assertion.
This is a must see film -- the basic distortions employed in this film are still being used to push an agenda today.
Reviewer: trafalgar - 3.00 out of 5 stars3.00 out of 5 stars3.00 out of 5 stars - March 13, 2004
Subject: A Passion for Capitalism
The profit motive is "wholesome and good...wholly compatible with God's law." Yee-haa! Now we don't have to feel so guilty.
There are several gems on this site produced by Harding College (now University), a Christian school in Arkansas. Most of them are devoted to creating productive, thankful workers who are content with their lot in life. Work faster, work harder...for a better life!
Someone must have been mighty impressed by this film, because "noted young historian" Prof. Ganus went on to become the school's president in 1965...
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - 4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars4.00 out of 5 stars - September 1, 2003
Subject: America's Distribution of Wealth
An economist lectures us on how the American capitalist system is the best in the world, morally right, and according to God's law. He's pretty boring himself, but he is interrupted by a couple of jaw-dropping scenes of "foreigners" marveling at the American system. Especially amusing is a scene of a fake Englishman who looks like Terry Jones dubbed in by Bill Clinton trying desperately to fake a British accent going all ga-ga in a supermarket. The shortages the Englishman has to put up with are assumed to be a product of socialism rather than that recent world war that everybody in the movie seems to have forgotten about. The economist also has going for him an excellent audio-visual aid in the form of a 3-D chart containing stylized human figures that he can move up and downÂÂI really want this one for the Film Ephemeral Museum of Quirky Devices. Actually, he doesn't do too bad a job of showing that the majority of the American people are pretty well-off, but then this film was made at the height of American post-war prosperity, when such things as the GI Bill were making it possible for millions of Americans to move into the middle class at a rate not seen before, and so far not seen again. One wonders what the figures were like during the Depression, which, by the way, was also a product of capitalism. A great example of 50s capitalist propaganda.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Reviewer: Spuzz - 5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars5.00 out of 5 stars - December 22, 2002
Subject: Right up there with 'Perversion For Profit'
'America's Distribution Of Wealth' is probably one of the most amazingly misinformed and baloney-spewing shorts ever produced. The short fades up to the strains of 'America The Beautiful' (So we know we're in for an American power-trip already) and are introduced to Dr George Benson, who has the shiniest desk ever. He overviews the series of programs, of which this is part of, "is beiing presented to help all of us understand, bett-uh, our advantages, und-uh, our american way of life" Fade-out.
We then are introduced to the true star of the show, "Noted Young Historian" Dr. Clifton L. Gaymus Junior. He asks, "Is the distribution of Wealth of America wide-spread? Or is the wealth in the hands of a few?" Before we can soundingly agree to the second option, he finishes with "as the Socialists and Communists seem to say". From this comment onward, the good doctor let's it rip with many interesting observations..
"Our System provides a high degree of economic freedom"
"We know that American Capitalism is morally right"
"The Competitive Market is wholesome and good"
"They are compatible with God's laws and the teachings of the Bible (!!)

To sum it up he says, 2:38 seconds into the 12 minute short, "Our system is morally right." Well, then, why continue for another 10 minutes? Because he has to break it down further! He even gives us examples of a 'English Socialist who came to America after 5 years of socialist rule' We then swtich over to a supermarket setting, a ridiculous looking actor, with the most god-awful attempt at a British accent ever recorded. The socialist is taken a tour of a grocery store. The socialist cannot BELIEVE a place like this EXISTS!
HAHAAHA! Then a 'Russian Communist' takes a tour of a factory parking lot. "Who owns all of these automobiles?" The workers do, says his tour guide. "That.. cannot.. be!" Mr Commie stereotype says. "The sons of toil! They are chained to their capitalist machines!" HAHAHAHA!
We go back to Dr Gaymus who says, I'm not making this up.. "In communist countries, workers do not have cars. A few of the lucky ones have.. bicycles!' HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

This is right up there with "Perversion For Profit' as one looney of a short. It's strange ideas given by a questionable expert make this a MUST SEE on this site.


Animated charts are used to show graphically the widespread ownership of America's basic wealth and the equitable distribution of the national income.

Cold War Anti-communism Anticommunism Free enterprise education Economics Capitalism Animation

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